Volume Ten

No. 4     

                                                                                                    

December, 1969

Published by the BATAVIA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 


Unless we keep the stream of the past with living significance for the present, we not only have no past but we have no present.  Tradition is not a barren pride in a dead glory; tradition is something that provides refreshment for the spirit.

 

It is something that gives us deep assurance and a sense of destiny and a determination to hold fast to the great things that have been done through valor and imagination by those who have gone before us.

- Felix Frankfurter

 

NEXT MEETING

 

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7, 1969 at 3:00 PM

IN THE BARTHOLOMEW CIVIC CENTER


 

PROGRAM 

Music Program

 

A CHRISTMAS STORY

- Batavia High School Chorus

- Mrs. Carl W. Johnson Librarian, Batavia Public Library

 

Refreshments will be served . . .

 

The Nominating Committee is composed of Mrs. Carl W. Johnson, Ansgar Carlson and Miss Joan Kane.  They will report a full slate of candidates for office of 1970 to be acted on at the first general meeting of the new year.

 

Our September meeting program was a History of the First Baptist Church of Batavia, prepared by Mrs. B. S. Lentz and read by her son Bob. This was preceded by two duets sung by the Misses Peg and Priscilla Snyder, accompanied by Miss Charlene Jobe. There was a display of artifacts. Refreshments were served by Baptist members who were also Society members.

 

At the business meeting which followed, Herb Carlson, Chairman of the Depot Repairing Committee, reported. He said that work is under way. Re-roofing had been completed, the work done by Allen Johnson of Al’s Roofing and members of VFW Post 1197. Several sash will be replaced, and the exterior will be sandblasted and painted so that it will be ship-shape for winter. Money, and time, have been furnished by the original twenty Batavia businessmen who purchased the depot. Money and time have been furnished also by some of our own members. Much more of both will be needed by everyone interested in the project. Volunteer to help, both financially and physically. Your Society is giving $l,000 for repairs. Interior renovating and cases to hold our mementos will be needed later.

 

At a Board meeting on September 30, our President, Harold Patterson, appointed a Depot Repair Committee consisting of Philip B. Elfstrom, Miss Mary Snow, Jeff Schielke. Their job is to coordinate all of the repair work. At the same time a Museum Development Committee was designated composed of Miss Eunice Shumway, J. A. Burnham, Mrs. Lloyd Kautz, Philip R. Elfstrom and John Gustafson. They will plan the interior layout.

 

Our sincere sympathy is extended to the family of Frank Jarvis. He died September 6. He was president of the Geneva Historical Society. Also to the family of Miss Pauline Koehler, and Mrs. Arvid Peterson.

 

Since writing our last newsletter, August 2nd, we have received mementos from the following people: Stephen Lusted; Mrs. Harold Pearsall, Dundee; Father S. E. Blackard; Mrs. L. R. Huxtable, C. E. Cottrell, Decatur; Mrs. Werner Amrien; the Estate of Lyle Hendrickson.

 

Your Society helps Batavia people in many diverse ways. Recently we aided he Batavia High School graduating class with material for their annual. The first graduating class came from West Batavia in 1870, 100 years ago, although my records show this was in 1871.  We have no definite record of a class graduating from East Batavia before 1879.  Then we loaned a student of the Northern Illinois University material about the Batavia Institute. He had to write a story about this early educational academy.

 

This is the 40th issue of your newsletter, closing the tenth Volume. Our first issue came out in January, 1960. We are most grateful to the Furnas Electric Company for printing, addressing and folding the letter.

 

Remember our book, Batavia: Past and Present at $1.00 makes an excellent inexpensive Christmas gift.

 

Kenzie B. Harris, student at our Junior High School, has done it again. He has an article on "Batavia Institute" in the October issue of "Illinois History.” The magazine also contains nine photos of the April Regional meeting that was held here.

 

The Leon Feldott farmstead, on the Batavia Road, has been approved by the NAL as the site of their museum. This will contain exhibits showing farm artifacts and life before NAL came into existence.


 

THE BATAVIA BURLINGTON DEPOT

 

The Galena and Chicago Union RR Co. completed its line from Chicago to Turner Junction, now West Chicago, in 1849.  About that time a meeting of interested citizens was held in Batavia to plan a connecting route from Aurora to Turner Junction.  This was adjourned to Aurora.  Money was raised to finance the project and a strap-iron railroad track was started from the east end and reached Batavia, twelve miles distant on September 2, 1850.  This was called the Aurora Branch RR.  It was continued on to Aurora and reached there October 21, 1850.

 

The Railroad officials borrowed the locomotive "Pioneer” and one coach on that illustrious day, September 2nd.  Now Batavians could make the trip all the way to Chicago over the G&CU RR rails from the Junction and return to Batavia the same day. Think of it! Before it took them two or three days by stagecoach or with a wagon load of grain to go there and come back home.

 

One of the first things the Aurora Branch RR did was to build a passenger depot here that same year 1850.  The story of this is told in a manuscript written by A. W. Newton in 1941.  A copy was sent to Miss Mary Snow by Mr. A. M. Rung, Director of Public Relations and Advertising for the CB&Q RR. I quote from this manuscript:

 

"There are three buildings still standing that were erected at the time of the building of the Aurora Branch in 1850: one at Turner Junction, one at North Aurora and one at Batavia.  The first two are still in service and in wonderful state of preservation, while the third, at Batavia, is in a sad state of dilapidation and not used for any purpose. The accompanying photograph shows the building as it now is.  (The reproduction of this photo is very poor.  Caption under, 'Original Batavia Depot, built in 1850')  Its existence was disclosed by a statement of Mr. A. N. Parre (L. A. Parre), Superintendent of Power & Light at Batavia, whose father, at the time when the building served as a depot, lived just across the street from where it stood.  At the time of building of the present depot, in 1855, it was moved to its present location about one block north.

 

“The Batavia depot (Original) was a building about 50' x 24', built entirely of white pine, and the fabrication of its framework is most interesting.  Timbers were mortised and tenoned, and held together with wooden pins.  Because of its age, now 90 years, (1940) the pine has become weathered to a rich brown color . . . ."

 

So the present depot was erected in 1855.  If it had a memory and a voice it could tell some interesting experiences, such as the time when a boy lost his two legs under a train and an emergency operation was performed in the depot.

 

Here is a partial list of the station agents, in sequence, as far as I have been able to obtain them: Edward Dixon, Thomas L. Cleveland, W. Van Etten, Edwin R. Freed and, lastly, Florian F. Walter.  Cleveland was agent from 1860 to 1881.  He was a cousin of President Cleveland.  Van Etten didn't live in the depot but lived in his home at the corner of Spring and VanBuren Streets, according to Wm. A. Davis.  A section boss named Flaherty lived there during this time.  Walter was agent for 17 years and bought the building about 1945.

 

In 1852 the Aurora Branch RR became the CB&Q RR.  In May of 1864 the direct line from Aurora to Chicago, through Naperville, was completed during the presidency of John Van Nortwick.

 

Herbert Carlson, Treasurer, reports the receipt of generous donations to the "Q" Museum restoration fund from: Miss Norah Corning, Mrs. Joyce LaVoy of Batavia and Mrs. James Charnley (Shirlee Snow) living in far-off Fairfax, Virginia.

 

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all . . .